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The Mercury Cars Guide : March 27th 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010 Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au ---9 Safety fears as cars go online SURFING: Improvements in motoring technology could see the introduction of internet compatibilty in vehicles. FACEBOOK, Twitter and MySpace are coming to your car. Soon you will be able to insert a conventional 3G SIM card into a slot somewhere in the dashboard that will turn your vehicle into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. Chris Ryan, boss of Strike which imports mainly Bluetooth vehicle technology, says Australian motorists will become familiar with internet-connected vehicles in the next few years, just as they did when in-car entertain- ment and air-conditioning became standard. He says internet devices were a highlight of the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and that motorists would benefit immensely from the new technology. Internet-empowered cars at the congress featured the SIM card slot positioned below the in-car display. Ryan says it will allow passengers to plug into the internet as if they were at an internet cafe and they can log in to all social networking sites at the click of a button. ''Passengers will be able to Skype, watch movies and email, etc,'' he says. However, not everyone is as excited about the introduction of internet to vehicles. National Fatality Free Friday road safety initiative founder Russell White says giving drivers the ability to surf the net while driving is too big a temptation. At the Mobile World Congress, Audi used a 3G-enabled A5 to show off navigation appli- cations and streaming entertainment features. Audi plans to include 3G connectivity in selected overseas A8 models later this year, according to Audi Australia corporate com- munications general manager Anna Burgdorf. Ryan says the feature will open up a world of information and services. ''From the comfort of the motorist's seat, they can make simultaneous voice and data con- nections,'' he says. ''Passengers will be able to use in-built navigation systems, which are compatible with Google Earth and similar GPS systems. They will provide high-resolution, 3D satellite and aerial imagery as well as live traffic updates which will be extremely useful for motorists.'' Meanwhile, Intel and Google are developing interactive dashboards with large screens showing 3D maps, web pages and videos. They will be capable of providing restaurant reviews and venue information online while vehicles are moving. Ryan says Strike will import in-car acces- sories, which will complement the new tech- nology and that will see consumers have access to the convenience of the internet at their fingertips, no matter where there are. RACQ traffic and safety executive manager John Wikman says most satellite navigation units provided essential driver information, but internet systems are more entertainment- oriented and could be a distraction. ''I don't see how you can input data and be concentrating on driving the car at the same time,'' he said. RACQ technical services officer Steve Spald- ing says the overriding factor must be safety. ''It is important that vehicle manufacturers and regulators balance the introduction of in- car communications technology with the risk of driver distraction,'' he says. Eyes front for BMW KARLA PINCOTT BMW has always vowed they'd never venture into the front-wheel drive field. But reports from Europe quote BMW boss Norbert Reithofer confirming that a small BMW will be built on the front-wheel drive Mini Cooper platform. There will be front-wheel drive BMWs in the smaller vehicle classes in the future,'' Reithofer said at the carma- kers' annual shareholder and financial meeting in Munich. 'This segment is expected to grow further and we will take advantage of this oppor- tunity,'' Reithofer said. We are exploring the possibility of developing a joint architecture for the front and four-wheel drive systems of these cars. We all know that the cost structure in the small car segment is different from that of the larger model classes and we intend to grow profit- ably in this segment as well. Because there is one el- ement that applies to the entire process chain --- we will increasingly apply modular manufacturing kits to various models and brands. This approach enables us to cut costs further without compromising on top qual- ity.'' The mini BMWs --- as op- posed to BMW Minis --- that result from this strategy are likely to be strong contenders for supremacy in the sprout- ing luxury subcompact seg- ment. And they would improve the badge's average fuel econ- omy and emissions which would boost their ability to comply with coming legis- lation not only in Europe but in the huge US market. However in a world that is seeing Aston Martin re-badge a tiny Toyota, it seems the old-school rules and bound- aries may be losing relevance. A new generation of young buyers possibly looking for a cheaper doorway into a pres- tige brand will probably care more about the badge on the front of the car than about which set of wheels is driving it. 267 ARGYLE STREET, HOBART | www.co-optoyota.com.au Used Vehicle Sales 6230 1966 *Prices apply until close of business Saturday 27/3/10. 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March 20th 2010
April 10th 2010